A former employee in China, according to the major computer chip equipment manufacturer ASML, stole information regarding the company’s technology.
The Dutch company claims that it has subsequently informed authorities in both the Netherlands and the United States about the security violation.
Having said that, the company went on to say that it did not “think that the misappropriation is relevant to our business.”
The ASML company is one of the most significant players in the international supply chain for microchips. It manufactures the machinery that produces the most cutting-edge chips in the world.
Chips, also known as semiconductors, are at the center of a contentious dispute between the United States and China. Chips are needed to power a wide variety of devices, from mobile phones to military hardware.
ASML stated in its most recent annual report that it had “experienced unauthorised misappropriation of data relating to proprietary technology by a (now former) employee in China.” This was stated in reference to an incident that occurred in China.
“It is possible that a number of export control restrictions were broken as a direct result of the security issue. In light of this occurrence, we are currently putting additional corrective measures into effect “it said.
ASML did not provide any additional information regarding the individual or the technology that was involved. A request for comment from the BBC was not immediately met with a response from the company.
A request for comment from the BBC was not immediately met with a response from the Chinese embassy in Washington.
This is not the first time that ASML has shown a connection between China and the theft of intellectual property (IP).
In its annual report for the year 2021, the company stated that it was aware of information that DongFang JingYuan Electron, a Chinese manufacturer of semiconductor equipment and software, “was actively selling items in China that might potentially infringe on ASML’s IP rights.”
DongFang JingYuan Electron has categorically refuted the charges.
The corporation, with its headquarters in Beijing, stated at the time that the reports were “inconsistent with the facts.”
It went on to say that they reserved the right to pursue any other legal measures against the misleading information that was appropriate.
Controls have been placed on major corporations in the semiconductor industry about their exports to China.
The United States government made the announcement in October that it will demand licenses for companies who ship semiconductors to China using US equipment or software, regardless of where in the globe the chips are manufactured.
The United States of America has been exerting pressure on the Netherlands and Japan to introduce restrictions that are analogous to their own.
Since 2019, the Dutch government has prevented ASML from exporting China its most cutting-edge lithography equipment.
As part of the process of fabricating microchips, lithography equipment employs lasers to print minuscule patterns on silicon. These patterns are part of the chip.